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War Dog II – An FP Photo Essay By Rebecca Frankel | Foreign Policy

May 19, 2011

War Dog II

The legend of the bin Laden hunter continues.

BY REBECCA FRANKEL??|??MAY 12, 2011

The dog that started it all has been identified — or so we think. The canine member of the U.S. Navy SEAL Team 6 that took down Osama bin Laden — a Belgian Malinois who answers to the name of Cairo –??reportedly??met with President Barack Obama behind closed doors last week. But even as that burning question now appears to have been answered, the excitement over war dogs abounds. Speculation and rumors have been flying, from??titanium teeth??to canine parachute jumps to just how a dog might've brought down bin Laden. Here's some more war-dog fodder to chew on.

Above, Staff Sgt. Philip Mendoza and his military working dog, Rico, wearing specially made goggles, train aboard a helicopter at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.

U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Elizabeth Rissmiller


Thrill seekers:??The??first U.S. dog??to take a "military parachute free fall" was Pal, a 46-pound German shepherd, in 1969. He made that jump with Sergeant First Class Jesse Mendez, a scout dog trainer during the Vietnam War.

But do dogs like leaping out of planes and helicopters?

Apparently, they enjoy it more than you would. One handler recently??told??the??Times??of London,??"Dogs don't perceive height difference…. They're more likely to be bothered by the roar of the engines, but once we're on the way down, that doesn't matter and they just enjoy the view…. [The dog] has a much cooler head than most recruits."

As former Marine and dog handler Mike Dowling put it in an interview, "As long as the dog is with the handler, he's loving life."

Above U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Chris Lalonde, center, holds his military working dog, Sgt. Maj. Fosco, while jumpmaster Kirby Rodriguez, behind them, deploys his parachute during the military's first tandem airborne jump with a canine from an altitude of 12,500 feet onto Gammon Parade Field on Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo., on Sept. 18, 2009.

U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Vince Vander Maarel

Ready to lead, ready to follow:??Most have assumed that Cairo's part of the mission would've included one of two things: to sniff out any explosives that may have been on the premises or to put that superstrong canine nose to use flushing out bin Laden. But there's a third possibility: What if the dog's job was actually to take out bin Laden? Instead of playing a backup role, in that case, he would've been the first line of defense.

Mike McConnery, owner of a private canine training firm in Canada called K-9 (that has been awarded??multiple contracts??to train dogs for the U.S. military),??told AP??this week that if there were a dog on this mission, it was possibly used "as a distraction and as a probe."

McConnery elaborated, explaining the effectiveness of an elite-trained canine attack dog. "If you see my dog coming, you can shoot my dog or you can shoot at me," he said. "If you shoot at my dog I will shoot you. If you shoot me, the dog will get you. This draws the attention of the bad guys and gives you a few seconds to make that entry."

Lance Cpl. Trevor M. Smith, a 20-year-old combat tracker dog handler with the II Marine Expeditionary Force, taunts Grek, a military working dog.

U.S. Marines Photo


Doggie dentures:??One of the more misleading??rumors??floating around the Internet this week was the claim that the U.S. Navy SEALs outfit their dogs with titanium teeth to make them even more ferocious. Spencer Ackerman over at the??Wired's Danger Room was quick to??dispel the myth. The only reason that a dog would have any titanium would be medical, he pointed out. Dogs sometimes lose teeth, and their handlers or trainers would have them replaced. But no one should fear these iron teeth, as Ackerman says: "Our proper reaction is pity for the creature."????

Above, Rruuk attacks trainer Corby Czajka, who is using a protective soft bite sleeve.

U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III


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